How to Avoid Being Blindsided by Change In 2004, Bill Gates told a group at the World Economic Forum “two years from now, spam will be solved.” Right. Like cockroaches, spam could survive a nuclear holocaust.

This is one in an incredibly long list of expert forecasts that are ludicrously wrong. In 1995 co-inventor of the Ethernet, Robert Metcalfe, told us the internet would “catastrophically collapse” in 1996. Hmm. Not only did it survive that near-death experience, it’s driven exponential change at rates the world’s never seen.

In 2007, just before Apple launched the iPhone, Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, laughed it off, “there’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.” Tell that to the executives at Blackberry.

Experience and expertise is a key part of career success. Many organizations benefit from leaders with deep experience and expertise. BBUUUTTT…experience and expertise can also create the failure of success. It’s easy to assume what got us here will get us there.

In his Harvard Business Review article, “Don’t Be Blinded By Your Own Expertise,” management professor and author, Sydney Finkelstein, reports that after studying top executives he’s “come to understand that expertise can also severely impede performance.”

Finkelstein found these steps can help us “cultivate a beginner’s mind to go along with our expert perspective, pushing ourselves to new levels of creativity and performance”:

Challenge Your Own Expertise

  • Check your ego
  • Methodically revisit your assumptions

Seek Out Fresh Ideas

  • Look to teammates as teachers
  • Tap new sources of talent
  • Add a role model or a learning buddy

Embrace Experimentalism

  • Pose frequent creative challenges to yourself
  • Learn from mistakes

How are you doing? Are your experience and expertise helping or hindering your change leadership?

As Amair Haque, author of The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business, says, “it’s only when you drop yesterday’s assumptions that you can glimpse tomorrow’s patterns and possibilities. To see deeper, unsee first.”